The practice of being gentle on yourself will be the greatest form of self care that you will ever give to yourself. You might have been taught to ignore the negative voices or to just say affirmations as a means to get that brain into submission. The problem is that all of these ideas are form of repression and denial. We are still cutting off parts of ourselves which will never work in the long run. We want to embrace ourselves holistically and be able to see and accept all parts of ourselves, not just the good ones. And a practice that will help you get there is the art of Being Gentle on Yourself.
Being Gentle on Yourself is a Practice
This is not something that will happen overnight. We have spent most of our lives berating, belittling, and beating ourselves up so to expect an immediate switch simply isn’t realistic. Focus on small changes. The art of being gentle on yourself requires dedication, consistency, and tenacity, so commit to practicing everyday in small ways. Think of it like building muscle. You are building your kindness muscles so this will exhibit results slowly but if you stick to it, it is guaranteed to manifest in your life.
Being Gentle on Yourself is a Key to Self Healing
If you want to heal yourself from old emotional wounds, you MUST be willing to let go of self-hatred. That no longer has any room in your life now. Whatever we fight we fuel, so when we resist ourselves we don’t do any favors for our healing. We must learn new ways to be with, speak to, and perceive our selves.
Being Gentle on Yourself Allows You to be More Compassionate on Others
The reason we tend to feel frustration around others and their growth is typically an indication on how we feel about ourselves. When we get annoyed at someone who is slow to change, it’s indicative at how impatient we are with our own ability to change. By being more gentle on ourselves, we are actually giving others the space to fall down and get back up countless times without aggravation or impatience. That is because the compassion that we are giving to ourselves cannot help but seep onto others.
How to Start Practicing Being Gentle on Yourself
1. State what your needs are.
By identifying your needs, you’ll be able to understand better how to approach your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. If I know today is going to be very busy, I might ask of myself, “Today I am going to need to be okay with just getting things done rather than looking for perfection.”
2. Stop yourself in the middle of or after.
If you can catch yourself during moments of self-criticism, this is ideal, but that will take time to build. Keep with this practice and eventually you will see it before it even happens and will have the ability to meet yourself with love and gentleness instead of anger and self-hatred.
3. Remain neutral.
Whenever you catch yourself being mean to yourself, observe it. Say, “Isn’t that interesting. I just beat myself up because I fumbled over my words. Hmm, I wonder why that was such a trigger?” Getting curious instead of furious will keep your in a neutral position, enabling you to
4. Explore it.
If you have the time, take a moment to journal why you had such a strong reaction to that particular situation. Or at least write it down as a reminder so you can explore it at a later time. Ask yourself:
Where does that stem from?
Who did I learn it from that it wasn’t okay to make a mistake?
How did my parents handle it when I did (name the trigger) as a child?
Why am I so hard on myself?
Do I have a specific memory of when this first happened and I was told that it wasn’t okay?
How can I be kind to myself right now?
Sometimes all you need to say to yourself is, “I’m still growing in this area. Be gentle. I just need more time.”
Cara Ansis is a Self-Love Facilitator and healer, helping women safely enter their own inward journey towards taking better care of themselves. With a master’s degree in Soul Care, she is a certified Spiritual Director and has had the privilege of working with countless women around the country. With her own profound story of self-healing, she now teaches those everyday techniques, rituals, and tools to enable other women connect with their own healing abilities and radically transform their lives. Cara lives in Chicago, IL with her husband, Matt and their son, Jaxon.